I have been very slow in developing a professional network online, however in person, I have done very well. Given my line of work in communications, I feel that face to face or even phone conversations have always been the best way to foster contacts and develop a network of colleagues within the industry. I try to attend events, organized press events to keep in touch with colleagues and those press contacts that I feel will be important contacts down the road. Often when requesting interviews with key talent, if the interview does not happen, I will try and arrange a meeting for coffee, etc so that next time I submit this request, I have a more personal connection to the talent.
Over the past eighteen months I have noticed that more people within the press relations sector want initial press contacts to be via email or by filling out the specific request via the company website. Personally I find this trend difficult as this does not allow for any personal connections which helps to develop contacts and to get improve the success rate of getting a positive response to requests. There are some advantages, however to the usage of social media networking. For example a couple of years ago I joined Linked In and over the course of the last twenty four months I have used this network to find talent and to search for jobs or fields that I may be interested in. I know that colleagues have viewed my profile so I consider this site an important tool to keep a presence professionally.
I am also trying to take a more active role on twitter. Though I do not have many followers and I do not tweet a lot of original material, I know that it is an area I will need to work on as it will help my professional profile– https://twitter.com/silverjes. I consider my Facebook account to be personal though I do maintain professional contacts on my Facebook and my status updates are generally related to events I am covering or reflections on what has happened over the course of the week. Again I do not update my status very frequently though I try and keep my profile on this site, up to date as well.
Over the next six -twelve months I will continue to work on my professional contacts in person by meeting with people as they come into the newsroom as well as meet others outside given how reliant my position is on these contacts. In terms of social media, I know I will need to work on my tweets and increasing the number of tweets I send out each day, including pictures and promos for the next day. I will also try to add some of the more fun video to my Facebook page with links to the work Facebook and Twitter accounts. This tie in will also help me professionally. And finally I plan to continue on with my education in person and online which will help me to continue to focus on my professional development overall.